It was a disappointing case of deja vu for Demond Washington and his Blue Bombers teammates.
Winnipeg ended its bye week with a goodbye to the CFL playoffs for a fourth straight season when they were eliminated with the B.C. Lions’ victory over Toronto on Friday.
The Bombers (5-12) have now missed the post-season in six of the past seven years and haven’t won the Grey Cup since 1990, a drought that’s reached the miserable milestone of 25 seasons.
Washington said he watched the B.C. Lions’ win and the ramification was hard to swallow.
“Everyone felt sick to their stomach,” the fourth-year defensive back, who has yet to see a second of post-season action, said Saturday after the team returned to the practice field.
“I mean, we wanted a chance to go (to the playoffs).”
Washington isn’t the only Bomber who has never experienced the post-season. Receiver Rory Kohlert also joined the club in 2012.
“I don’t think you imagine missing the playoffs,” Kohlert said. “I don’t think anyone imagines that.”
But the team still has a road game against the Argonauts on Friday and Kohlert said his competitive spirit didn’t die with elimination.
“I know that Toronto, they’re playing for something,” Kohlert said. “If you just roll over and let them take it to you, it shows who you are.
“I think there’s some good guys on this team and some good competitors on this team and we won’t roll over. As we showed last year, we went into Calgary (for the last game) and we won.”
Veteran receiver Clarence Denmark said it’s difficult to pinpoint why the Bombers failed to make the playoffs again.
His time with the team started off on a high note. His rookie season in 2011 ended with a Grey Cup loss to B.C.
“That first year was good. It kind of spoiled me,” Denmark said. “I really thought that every year was going to be like that, but I haven’t been back since and it’s been pretty tough.”
Much will be said and written about why the Bombers floundered in a season in which they’re hosting the 103rd Grey Cup game on Nov. 29.
Big money was spent on beefing up the offensive line to protect quarterback Drew Willy with the free-agent signings of veteran centre Dominic Picard and tackle Stanley Bryant.
Yet Willy has been out with a knee injury since Aug. 9 and head coach Mike O’Shea said Saturday he won’t be ready to play the season finale.
He hasn’t decided who’ll start against the Argonauts between Matt Nichols, Brian Brohm or Dominique Davis, who hasn’t taken a snap yet.
“I think when Drew went down it was big, but we brought some guys in that stepped into that role and I feel like they did a good job,” Denmark said.
“But, you know, it’s a team effort and I think as a team we just didn’t go out there and capitalize when we had the opportunity to win games.”
The final game will be played for pride and jobs on next year’s squad.
“What you put on the field is your resume, that’s what you’ll be known as,” said first-year Bomber defensive end Jamaal Westerman, who led the league with 15 sacks heading into Week 19 action.
“We have that last game and we want to go out and play well and get the (win).”
And earn their paycheques, Washington pointed out.
“When we signed that contract, we signed up for 18 games,” Washington said.
“That’s what being a professional is – you go out and do what you have to do and you go out and compete and do it at the best of your ability.”